I’m writing this from a ferry in the middle of the Georgia Strait, on my way back to Vancouver from our cross-border town hall about fossil fuel exports in the Salish Sea.
|Talking at the town hall, with the tanker route
and the San Juan Island meeting in the background
Photo by Megan Spencer
A few hours ago, I was standing on a bluff just outside Victoria overlooking Haro Strait, speaking to concerned residents about the Kinder Morgan pipeline. At the same moment, allies across the border were holding their own town hall meeting about fossil fuels, just 13 kilometres across the Kinder Morgan tanker route, on San Juan Island in Washington.
We were there to highlight the combined impacts of all the fossil fuel projects currently proposed for the Salish Sea, learn lessons from campaigns on both sides of the border, and kick-start a new wave of cross-border organizing to prevent the Salish Sea from being turned into a global carbon corridor.
We heard from Eoin at the Wilderness Committee about how community campaigns against coal in the Lower Mainland have blossomed in recent months, inspired by successes south of the border. I spoke about the environmental impacts of an oil spill in the Georgia Strait, and how unprepared we are to deal with a major spill of conventional crude at current levels of traffic, let alone a six-fold increase in tankers carrying diluted bitumen. A Victoria whale watching company, Orca Spirit, expressed their concerns about increasing tanker traffic, given their reliance on a vibrant, healthy ocean for their income. Torrance from the Wilderness Committee emphasized that the Salish Sea is one ecosystem and one climate, and we need to treat it that way if we are to be successful in our organizing.
Signing the petition to Premier Clark & WA Governor Inslee
Photo by Megan Spencer
We then made a cross-channel phone call to Stephanie from Friends of the San Juans, who shared the inspiring story of how a diverse coalition managed to defeat 3 coal export projects in the Pacific Northwest, and mobilize 100,000 people to speak out against the expansion of the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Folks in Victoria shared stories and asked questions of their counterparts on San Juan and vice versa.
We wrapped up by pledging to continue to work together and find new ways to link up citizens who share these concerns to take action and put pressure on decision-makers on both sides of the border, and signing a petition to Premier Christy Clark and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, asking them to work more closely together to protect the Salish Sea. Watch this space to find out how you can sign it and get involved.
It was a really inspiring day, and a perfect way to launch our Save the Salish Sea campaign on Vancouver Island!
PS. Check out some more lovely photos from the meeting on our Facebook page.